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Sonia Gandhi gets back in action after leadership turmoil at CWC meet

In the CWC meeting on Monday, Sonia Gandhi had expressed the wish to be relieved of her duties as interim chief, but agreed to stay on till the formal process of choosing her successor takes place. (ANI)Premium
In the CWC meeting on Monday, Sonia Gandhi had expressed the wish to be relieved of her duties as interim chief, but agreed to stay on till the formal process of choosing her successor takes place. (ANI)

  • A five-member Congress committee will be formed to discuss and formulate the party's stand on key government ordinances
  • Sonia Gandhi met CMs of seven opposition-ruled to formulate policy on GST, NEET; preparations for Bihar polls flagged off

NEW DELHI: Rallying seven chief ministers on the issue of GST and NEET, forming a high-level committee to look into central ordinances and kickstarting party's election plan for Bihar—Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has sprung into action. She is taking organisational and strategy calls just two days after the leadership turmoil which unraveled itself at a key Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet earlier this week.

The developments, all of which happened just two days after the CWC meet, are significant. They come not just against the backdrop of Gandhi’s decision to continue in the top post till her successor is chosen, senior leaders feel this points out to her ‘taking charge’ of party related issues. They add that more such organisational decisions could take place in coming days.

A key announcement on Wednesday was the formation of a five-member committee to discuss and formulate the party's stand on key ordinances promulgated by the government. The committee comprises former Union ministers P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh, besides lawmakers Amar Singh and Gaurav Gogoi. Ramesh is also the convenor of the committee.

The setting up of the committee comes less than three weeks ahead of the expected monsoon session of Parliament. It gains significance since one of the first ordinances it could take up is on agricultural market reforms which pitches for ‘One nation, one agriculture market’. The Congress, particularly its Punjab unit, has been vocal in its criticism of the ordinance which the government will try to get passed during the monsoon session.

“Congress president’s choice of members in the committee is interesting because all of them are parliamentarians which include former union ministers who can help in party’s outreach with other opposition leaders for a joint strategy over ordinances like these. We are expecting that one or two more committees, particularly for Parliament related issues, could be formed soon," a senior party leader said requesting anonymity.

The announcement of the committee came just hours after Gandhi chaired a meeting of seven chief ministers from opposition ruled states including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren alongwith those from Congress ruled states. All the opposition leaders who joined the meeting on Wednesday had highlighted the need to have greater coordination between opposition parties.

Gandhi’s chairing of the meeting and organization related announcement came days after a section of party’s senior leaders shot off a letter to her underlining the need for systemic overhaul of the Congress including a full time and effective leadership. In the CWC meeting on Monday, Gandhi had expressed the wish to be relieved of her duties as interim chief, but later agreed to stay on till the formal process of choosing her successor takes place.

The leadership debate in Congress has come just months ahead of Bihar elections where it is part of the Grand Alliance headed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). On Wednesday, the party also announced a screening committee for candidate selection for Bihar which included Avinash Pande, former incharge of Rajasthan, who was removed from the post days after the internal political crisis in that state ended.

“All eyes are now on the possible announcement of a committee to assist Gandhi in looking at the challenges posed in the meeting. The idea was discussed in the CWC meeting and is expected to be announced soon," another party leader, who was part of Monday’s CWC meeting, added.

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